The Bonnie Badger, Gullane, East Lothian: restaurant review
Try crispy pigs’ ears, posh ham, egg and chips, and Scottish gin tonics at Tom Kitchin’s new restaurant with rooms, on Edinburgh’s picturesque outskirts
Looking for restaurants near Edinburgh? Read our review of Tom Kitchin's latest opening, The Bonnie Badger, and check out more suggestions for eating in Edinburgh here.
The Bonnie Badger in a nutshell
The latest opening from chef Tom Kitchin of The Kitchin, Castle Terrace and Scran & Scallie. The Bonnie Badger is his first opening outside of Edinburgh in the beautiful village of Gullane, East Lothian – home to golf, seaside towns, and glorious sandy beaches. Previously the Golf Inn, the building has been lovingly restored and brought back to life. The restaurant with rooms has brought with it excellent cooking and the level of service expected from the acclaimed chef.
Matthew Budge, previously of Dakota. He spent six months working within the Kitchin Group before the Bonnie Badger opened, where he now heads up the kitchen. Also in the team are pastry chefs from Castle Terrace and The Kitchin.
What’s the vibe?
Open plan and a double-height ceiling with original exposed beams make the dining room a fabulous space. With seating on the ground floor and at a mezzanine level there’s a buzzy feel akin to one of Tom’s city restaurants. Sheepskin rugs are strewn over seating, exposed bricks and original stone walls are mixed with modern lighting and a stunning open fireplace. Staff are aplenty and service is efficient without being overly fussy.
What's the food like?
The menu is similar to Edinburgh’s Scran & Scallie so regular Scran fans who travel here won’t be surprised. Familiar but classic dishes such as grass-fed Highland wagyu burger and chips, steak pie and bone marrow, and fish and chips are alongside specials including monkfish curry, basmati rice and pooris, and East Fortune pork cutlet, roasted vegetables and apple sauce. Visiting on a Sunday has the added bonus of the chance to experience roast sirloin of Highland beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables and horseradish cream.
Start with Tom’s signature pork crackling sticks and crispy pigs’ ears, while you look over the menu – it certainly beats olives, bread and olive oil. Starter of dressed crab, avocado and toast arrives in a crab shell and features light white lemony crab meat with shredded lettuce and creamy avocado.
Ham, egg and chips, for the main event, is served on a long wooden board and far greater than you ever could have imagined. A huge flaky, sticky and sweet ham hock on the bone sits next to a pot of triple cooked chips and a small ramekin filled with pineapple and spring onion relish. The best bit, though, was the egg – a mini pan with a runny egg yolk atop an egg scramble with wholegrain mustard and chives. A heroic dish that could easily serve two.
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Cod, squid, spaghetti, garlic and lemon from the specials menu did its job just as well. A light touch in the pan for the fish and shellfish, al dente spaghetti and a deeply flavoured, creamy fish sauce kept the table happy.
This is a kitchen that seriously knows how to cook, and exactly what you want to eat. The most perfect treacle tart with melt-in-your-mouth pastry, served with a quenelle of clotted cream, proves just how talented this team are. The pastry is so short it’s hard to imagine how it holds together – but it does – and the treacle filling is well balanced with lemon and ginger. It’s sublime.
The second, a hollow meringue sphere filled with yogurt panna cotta and a sharp sea buckthorn curd is served with a green apple sorbet and citrussy apple balls. If you don’t like desserts overly sweet, then this is the one for you.
And the drinks?
Classic cocktails and booze-free ‘innocents’ sit alongside an extensive wine list which changes with the seasons but offers plenty of choices by the glass and prices to suit most pockets. Local beers, ciders, an array of Scottish gins and a whisky list from all of the regions will please the tourists and golfers alike.
Eat in the dining room for a more formal lunch or dinner or head to the bar for relaxed all-day dining. Kids are welcome and can eat from the ‘Cubs’ menu or have any other dish off the menu as a smaller portion.
The Bonnie Badger will come into its own during the summer months and is already fully prepped with two Big Green Egg BBQs and plenty of outside seating on the way.
The Bonnie Badger, Main Street, Gullane, EH31 2AB
Words by Hilary Sturzaker
Photographs by Marc Millar